by Kelsey Hamlin
When it was all over and I said,
“I realized college doesn’t usually happen for people like me,”
Your face tensed
and you asked what I meant.
I remembered you don’t know what it’s like to live in poverty.
You didn’t see the majority of my life, little property.
I don’t know how to explain growing up in passing
without the hours suddenly amassing.
How the rats itched at the walls
in our house that could easily fall.
How your absence made me rip out my hair
kneeling by the bathtub with my mom crying there.
Watching a mother stoop into depression again and again
Telling myself reading and homework would make it all end.
Making my friends my family
Watching one family buy a FitBit
—– just because
they feel like it
Yet claiming they don’t have any money,
that you all struggle to pay bills and live happily
While the other debates which necessity is cheaper,
knowing full well we don’t have heat or
Water when the weather gets too cold or too hot.
Or packing because the bank wants your spot,
that house you grew up in and all of its rot.
Or pretending it’s okay when it’s really not
Because your mom doesn’t know how to do taxes
and you figure it out before too much time lapses.
Or skipping out on field trips and senior celebrations
knowing full well that money should be spent on obligations.
Or feeling bad any time you eat or ask for anything
because capitalism always squeezes for one last wring.
Or the way depression grips someone like a cold knife
plunging into their stomach, asking to take a life.
Or hearing lies drip from a parent’s mouth for years
ribbon-wrapped deceptions just for your ears
manifesting all of your fears
—– you’re alone.
Only I would get myself anywhere
and, it’s funny, because that’s how I’m here
[But I did find support systems]
A teacher who created expectation
asked me to rise to the occasion
—— of life.
He said, let scars take over the abrasion.
And my life-long friends who
honestly helped me through
—– all of it.
I forgot you don’t understand that even with your fatherly hand
your eyes missed most of my life on accident.
I don’t know how to explain this to you
without hurting you too
Because I love you,
So I lied